Sarah and I were in the same ward growing up, and then we got called to the same mission within about a month. She has always been very wise and down to earth and I admire her for that. I love her story because I feel like admitting to ourselves that there’s a bigger problem is sometimes half the struggle.
The first real memories I have of depression are from high school. When I got really stressed out with my load I would start to feel down and depressed. I guess I just figured that it was normal to feel this way from time to time. I would try my best to make changes and avoid things like procrastination so I wouldn’t get so stressed out. My mom was always one of my biggest supporters in helping me get through it. She has also struggled with depression and taken antidepressants since before I was born. She always had the right things to say. I always just coped. I thought that’s just what you did. I hadn’t been able to admit to myself yet that I struggled with a mental illness.
So I continued like this through college and my mission. Sometimes I did pretty well and other times I struggled. Whenever it was really tough I remember asking for a priesthood blessing. It was like feeling like you were in a deep dark pit and someone suddenly shines a flashlight and throws you a rope, and you feel loved and you know everything is going to be okay.
I remember putting in my application papers to serve a mission and I was afraid that it would keep me from being able to serve, or would limit me on where I could go. I kept telling myself that it really wasn’t that bad and that I could manage. I think part of me was in denial, and yet also I do think that it has gotten progressively worse and harder to deal with over time.
When I returned home from my mission, everything was going great – I started up school again, got a job, and within a few weeks met and started dating seriously the man who is now my husband. Then my depression returned. After crying and talking with my mom, she suggested that I try getting on medication. At first I was resistant. I had coped for so long on my own. The argument that convinced me was that with getting married I had to think of my husband. It wasn’t fair to him to “just cope” and not truly get the help that I needed so I could better support him. This wasn’t just about me anymore, I had a future family to think about and how it would affect them. So the next day we went to the doctor.
That decision was a turning point in my life, that’s when I was able to actually admit to myself that I suffered from a mental illness. By doing so I was able to start being able to talk about it more openly and has helped me to recognize things that trigger my depression and things that help me overcome it. The more I am able to talk about my depression with others the stronger I feel. By communicating about it with my husband more, he is better able to support me. Being on medication has not taken my depression away, but it has mellowed it out so it is not so severe.
Being a mom while dealing with depression can be a challenge. Some days their laugh and smiles lift my spirits and are just what I need. Other days their tantrums and crying make me want to hide in my room all day. But that’s motherhood, right?